Jonah: A Simple 4-Week Bible Study


jonah

 Jonah: A Simple 4-Week Bible Study

Background: this is a “starter” Bible study to get Youth interested in reading the Bible on their own or with friends and/or family.  The goal is to spend only 15 minutes a week reading and then discussing the Scripture together.  The Youthworker should take additional time to read commentaries and notes about the Book of Jonah in the Hebrew Scripture (often called the Old Testament) so that they can give background and context rather than everyone simply sharing their ignorance in the discussion time.

*Note of caution: it is a sin to bore Youth with the Bible!

Week 1- Chapter 1

Before you begin ask: Can somebody tell me the whole story of Jonah?  See what they think they know ahead of time.  Then as you read each week, talk about how Jonah is like and dislike what everybody thought ahead of time.

Ask if anyone knows where Nineveh is?  Help them know modern day geography relation to ancient cities.  Search for information ahead of time to help.

Read the Scripture slowly together out loud.  Break it down into these verse segments: 1-3, 4-6, 7-10, 11-16, 17.

After each segment ask: Can someone sum up what just happened here in 1 sentence in his or her own words?

Talk about the words that are unfamiliar.  Share anything from study notes.

BIG IDEA: God does not send the giant fish (NOT a whale) to punish Jonah but to save Jonah.

Talking About It: Maybe instead of wondering if we have been “saved” or not we should be wondering “have I been swallowed by a giant fish yet”?  How does that change or enhance our understanding of salvation?  What does this scripture say about how we as people tend to function in life?  What does it help us to know about God?  When we go the wrong way, how does God work with us to “save” us?  Are we like or unlike Jonah?  How? Why?  Are we like the people on the ship?  How?

End: what do you think will happen in Chapter 2?

 

Week 2- Chapter 2

Read the Scripture slowly together out loud.  Break it down into these verse segments: 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10.

After each segment ask: Can someone sum up what just happened here in 1 sentence in his or her own words?

Talk about the words that are unfamiliar.  Share anything from study notes.

BIG IDEA: Jonah is thankful.

Talking About It: Why does Jonah pray from inside a fish?  Would you?  What does his prayer say about God?  What does it say about his situation?  Has Jonah changed any since chapter 1? Why or why not?  How is chapter 2 different in tone than chapter 1?  What does poetry help us say that prose cannot say?  Are you surprised that Jonah became fish vomit?  When have you ever felt like “fish vomit”?  Do you think Jonah felt “saved” after the burp heard round the world spit him up on dry land?  Was it a different kind of “saved” than he might have felt being swallowed by the giant fish in chapter 1?  Why or why not?

End: what do you think will happen in chapter 3?

Week 3- Chapter 3

Read the Scripture slowly together out loud.  Break it down into these verse segments: 1-3, 4-6, 7-10, 11-16, 17.

After each segment ask: Can someone sum up what just happened here in 1 sentence in his or her own words?

Talk about the words that are unfamiliar.  Share anything from study notes.

BIG IDEA: God responds to everyone.

Talking About It: What does Jonah do?  What do the people of Nineveh do?  What does the king do?  What does God do?  Whose actions are the MOST surprising?  Whose actions are the least surprising?  Why?  Why does God want a group of people not labeled in scripture as God’s chosen people to repent and turn toward God?  What does this look like today for people that don’t follow the God of Jesus Christ?  Does God love everybody? Why or why not?  How do you like Jonah’s sermon?  Are shorter sermons better? Why or why not?  Why did the king turn?  What is his motivation?  Does verse 10 surprise you in any way?

End: what do you think will happen in Chapter 4?

 

Week 4- Chapter 4

Read the Scripture slowly together out loud.  Break it down into these verse segments: 1-5, 6-8, 9-11.

After each segment ask: Can someone sum up what just happened here in 1 sentence in his or her own words?

Talk about the words that are unfamiliar.  Share anything from study notes.

BIG IDEA: God’s grace is relational, it works on us, we respond.

Talking About It: When is it ok to be angry?  Can anger ever be healthy?  Why does God continue to work with Jonah after Jonah has done what God asked?  What do you understand “grace” to be like in your life?  What does God care about?  Do you like God’s closing speech?  Why or why not?  How do you like the inclusion “…and also many animals”?  Why do you think that is important to the overall story?  In the end, who wins?  Why?  Was the Book of Jonah surprising to you?  Did the story go the way you thought it would before you started?

End: what do you think happened next? To Jonah?  To the people of Nineveh?  How does God continue in relationship?  What do you know now about YOU and God because you studied Jonah for 4 weeks?

Copyright 2012 Charles W. Harrison

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About Charles Harrison

Charles W. Harrison is the CEO of CircuitWriter Media LLC and The Center For Youth Ministry Excellence. He is an active blogger on several platforms. He spends most weeks teaching and coaching Youthworkers across the nation as well as consulting with local churches in order to assess their youth programs using a systems approach in order to build a Wesleyan model of youth ministry. He stay anchored in the life of a local church as a volunteer Youthworker at FUMC Wichita Falls, Texas. In his spare time he writes curriculum and serves as the Board Chair of Proyecto Abrigo - a mission to build homes for families living in cardboard houses in Juarez, Mexico.

5 comments

  1. Thank you for the reminder of not making it boring.
    Thanks for the thought provoking questions to get them talking.
    Love the idea about a map.

  2. i just posted my novel about Jonah in which a whale talk is included. I hope you will look at it and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed your lesson.

    kaz

    http://www.booksie.com/action_and_adventure/novel/issho_hiroshi/a-wooden-puppet/chapter/1

  3. Matthew 12:40 states “whale”

    • Robyn, actually in the original language it is not “whale” in Matthew 12:40. The NRSV uses “sea monster” for example. Regardless, for hundreds of years before Matthew was written and before Jesus was even born, the story was told, and it was not a whale. Our english translations are often part of the problem. Thanks for making the connection to the new testament however! We do get an even greater “sign” than the sign of Jonah in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!

      Blessings,

      ~Charles

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